Alba sets a new global benchmark in aluminium production: Chairman

Mahmood Kooheji AlbaOutlook of Aluminium sector is stabilising

With achieving the total 13 million tonnes production capacity in 2009, Aluminium Bahrain has set a new benchmark in the aluminium production since commencing of its smelter operations in 1971, according to a top official at Alba.

“Among the countries in the GCC, Bahrain holds a unique distinction; since it was here that the first aluminium smelter was established nearly 40 years ago, marking the start of an industrial diversification programme not only in Bahrain but throughout the GCC,” said Mahmood Koohiji, Chairman Alba board, in his remarks at the opening of the 25th International Aluminium Conference organised by Metal Bulletin.

“Alba was the first aluminium smelter to begin operations in the Gulf, and we played a pioneering role in initiating industrial diversification in the region, and more significantly, in developing the necessary infrastructure for setting up a full-fledged aluminium downstream industry in Bahrain,” he said.

“Today, along with a large scale smelter like Alba, there are six major downstream companies, and over 500 medium to small enterprises.”

“Alba continues to be a leader and, at 870,000 tonnes per annum, account for two per cent of total world aluminium production, which corresponds to 35 per cent of the whole Middle East output put together,” he added.

“Alba’s success is due to its presence in one of the most diversified, tax free and business friendly economies in the Middle East, Bahrain,” he added.

“The global aluminium sector has stabilised considerably this year despite some degree of fluctuations and uncertainty in the prices,” he said.

“The aluminium industry has survived, thrived and succeeded against all odds,” he said.

“And today, we look forward with greater optimism at a future where the aluminium industry will continue to remain a strong force in the economy of our various countries, a powerful contributor in the growth of various sectors, and a major influence in the profits and productivity charts of most organisations,” he said.

“There still remains a huge demand for aluminium all over the world, and with global aluminium consumption expected to register a consistent annual growth of 8.5 per cent right up to 2013, it is clear that there will be room for more players to satisfy a growing appetite for aluminium.

“It is estimated that by 2014 – based on current growth projections – the Middle East will supply 14 per cent of the global demand for aluminium. This is a major achievement for the region which has been attracting both large and small scale industries, and rapidly becoming a hub, and transit point for export and import of wide range of products and services,” he said.

“It would be no exaggeration to say that the GCC – of which Bahrain is an integral part – is recognised as an aluminium friendly region.

“Statistics from last year will explain why this is so. In 2009, while the demand for aluminium in Europe, North America, Japan and Russia saw a massive plunge by around 24 per cent, the GCC, on the other hand, saw only a minimal decrease of around – 6 per cent,” he said.

“Even through the peak of the economic crisis, the Middle East aluminium market has remained incredibly resilient and not suffered the pain that its peers in other markets had to go through. Thanks to competitive availability of energy, state-of-the-art technology, skilled workforce, diversified customer base and diversity in product portfolio, smelters in the region have been able to strengthen their reputation for being competitive suppliers.

“Geographical access to the markets of Europe and Asia have further contributed to the region’s attractiveness, and enabled the smelters to increase the presence of its products in diverse international markets, despite the tariff barriers imposed by the EU on our products.

According to Alba Chairman Bahrain has had the privilege of prudent fiscal policy, higher GDP per capita, lowest inflation, and strategic location. “It is hardly surprising that some have called Bahrain, the best country for doing business in the Gulf.”

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